Real Weight Loss Success Stories: Nicola Lost 85 Pounds With Hard Work And Determination
In January of 2013, Nicola Roberts went on a dream vacation to Hawaii. She returned with lots of memories, but without a single photo of herself on the trip.
“I love taking photos and I loved Hawaii, but I was too embarrassed to have one taken of me,” says Nicola, 37, a stage manager for Cirque du Soleil. “I looked awful. After I posted some of my photos online, people would ask, ‘Where are photos of you?’”
That was the turning point, she says: “I said, ‘OK, enough. I can’t go somewhere nice on vacation and not feel good about myself anymore.”
But she wasn’t optimistic about her chances for success. As a lifelong emotional eater, she’d tried diets that required counting and measuring everything, “but by the end of the day, I’d be starving.”
After an internet search for weight-loss methods, she discovered that Slimming World – which is popular in Nicola’s native U.K. – is now available across America.
“I went, ‘Hooray,’ because I know how to do this,” says Nicola, who had lost weight with Slimming World while still living in Europe years ago. “The American program is a little different but it still felt familiar. The first week I lost 11 pounds, and I haven’t looked back.”
Nicola says Slimming World’s eating plan works for her because it offers a variety of foods – and plenty of them — to keep her from going hungry.
“It really does work,” she says. “I could live on pasta, and it’s allowed on this plan. I do try not to eat my own weight in pasta, but another thing Slimming World helps with is learning how your body reacts to food and realizing you don’t need as much anymore. But I do eat a lot of pasta, potatoes and rice – all those carbs – and it obviously works.”
The eating plan also encourages “healthy extras” such as milk or cheese daily, along with a few indulgences, which are monitored. Nothing is banned outright, so feelings of deprivation are kept at bay. But should temptation and discouragement creep in, Nicola says she relies on Slimming World’s support system to keep her moving ahead: “Other members online can really spur you on. It’s a secret forum, so you can ask as stupid a question as you want or say whatever you want, and people will always respond. The support has been invaluable.”
As the weight came off throughout 2013, Nicola embraced the active side of herself like she’s never done before.
“I always felt like I was a fit person in a fat body,” she admits. “I love adventure: sky diving, hang gliding, cycling, hiking, all of that. Before, it was very intimidating. I’d have to get the extra-extra large wet suit, and when you go on a helicopter they have to weigh you before you get in. Things like that. I felt like an active, fit person trapped inside of an obese body.”
Those days are over – although that still takes Nicola by surprise at times.
“I think it will take awhile for my mind to catch up with my body,” she says. “I recently went on a scuba-diving trip, where we were cage diving with great white sharks. They took a photo of us sunbathing afterward, and when I saw the photo I thought, ‘Who’s that?’ I was trying to work out who all was on the trip when I realized, ‘Wait a minute! That’s me!’”
At the start of 2013, Nicola suffered from terrible insomnia, low energy levels and high blood pressure, among other ailments. As she enters 2014, “I have boundless energy,” she says. “The insomnia is gone; now I sleep like a baby. Before I went to Hawaii last year, I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was through the roof. The doctor said I was going to have to keep regular tabs on it. A couple of months ago, I went back to the doctor for something and thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to get that lecture again.’ Instead, my blood pressure was below the average. That was incredible. Just losing the weight fixes all of that.”
Nicola is also enjoying what she calls “the small moments,” such as sitting in an airplane seat and realizing how much extra room there is now, or shopping at regular clothing stores instead of the ones that cater to plus-sized people.
Although Nicola has gotten rid of most of her old clothes, “I saved one pair of jeans that are huge,” she says. “Every now and again I put them on, and it’s incredible. I can’t believe I filled those jeans. I can get another person in there now.”
For those who are starting their own weight-loss journeys in the new year, Nicola suggests that they document the transformation from the start: “Take a photo of yourself now, in your underwear if you’re brave enough, or something form-fitting. Of course you don’t want that photo, but you’ll be glad you have it later.
“I want to tell people who are overweight, ‘You can do this,’” she adds. “So many people say they can’t, but if I can do it, you can do it.”
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